On Thursday, Dr. John Wilson, Director for the Office of Technical Support in USAID’s Bureaus for Asia and the Middle East, testified before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment on “Agent Orange in Vietnam: Recent Developments in Remediation”.
Dioxin contamination, associated with the use of Agent Orange, is one of the last vestiges of the Vietnam War and remains an obstacle to further strengthening relations between the United States and Vietnam. USAID is the lead implementer for dioxin remediation in Vietnam working collaboratively with the Department of State, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Defense.
For more information on USAID programs in Vietnam.
In Lebanon Haigazian University will be presented with $450,081 to directly support its student financial aid program. 356 Haigazian University students with demonstrable financial need from all over Lebanon will be given scholarships with these U.S. funds, made available through USAID. Without this assistance, these students would not be able to study at Haigazian University. Lebanese American University (LAU) will be presented with $1,178,122 to support its Financial Aid & Scholarships Fund for both campuses in Jbeil and Beirut. 249 qualified Lebanese students benefit from this program.
In Albania USAID will open a Public Information Office in one of Albania’s District Courts. To tackle corruption in Albania’s judicial system, USAID’s Rule of Law program works with a set of pilot courts to improve their performance and accountability to citizens. One of several accountability measures introduced by USAID, public information offices serve as one-stop shops where citizens have quick and easy access to information on court proceedings and their legal rights.
In El Salvador a signing ceremony for the Global Development Alliance (GDA) with the Salvadoran Foundation for Health and Human Development (FUSAL). USAID will help expand FUSAL’s Libras de Amor program to two additional municipalities in Sonsonate to combat poor eating habits and malnutrition.
In Jakarta a forum will present eight finalists – that represent the finest – of more than 75 projects which entered a competition in Asia, organized by Climate Technology Initiative (CTI), and sponsored by USAID. Eight clean energy competition finalists, reps from more than 150 energy professionals, entrepreneurs, donors, banks, partners, project developers from Indonesia and Asia. The forum is a means to bridge the financial gap between creative innovators in clean energy with private investors who are willing to fund these opportunities.
submitted by Amanda Parsons
For USAID Afghanistan civilian aid worker Laura Mendelson, tough negotiations with tribal leaders, anger from villagers and constant enemy fire are all in a days work. A Sunday Washington Post Magazine article outlines her efforts, the progress made and struggles faced by all aid providers on the ground in the war torn country.
After spending decades in exile, Saad Mohseni returned to become one of the most powerful influencers in Afghanistan. Today, he owns radio and television networks, an advertising agency, and a movie production company, among other businesses. Realizing that media messaging would be one of the most effective ways to responsibly rebuild the nation, USAID issued grants to help fund Mohseni’s work to build free press. The New Yorker and NPR profile the burgeoning media mogul and his recent successes thanks to United States support.
“Father of the Green Revolution,” Norman Borlaug established the World Food Prize in 1968. The international award recognizes the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. As 2010’s winners were announced Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, together with US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah, announced the creation of the Norman Borlaug Commemorative Research Initiative—a cooperative venture of USAID and the U.S. Department of Agriculture that, as Voice of America reports, will combine the two agencies’ resources, knowledge, commitment and expertise to work together for the realization of Borlaug’s dream of feeding the world.
Read the rest of this entry »
submitted by Abby Sugrue
In Kazakhstan: An event to raise awareness about the risks of drug abuse, HIV/AIDS and TB among at-risk youth – the event will include an awards ceremony for a drawing competition, a football match, and educational sessions on prevention of drug-use, HIV/AIDS and TB. Local NGOs, youth groups and local media are invited.
In Armenia: An Amerenian Eye Care Project, and an international conference on the Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), a potentially blinding eye disorder that primarily affects premature infants. A group of very well known ROP and retina specialists from the US and Australia will be traveling to Yerevan to train and teach the Armenian specialists to launch the program. Attendees will include neonatologists, pediatric & regional ophthalmologists, clinical residents and neonatal nurses.
In Serbia: “Agribusiness & Renewable Energy Sources,” a conference to inform investors and agricultural producers on possibilities of production and the need for the use of sustainable sources of energy, in order to lower the emission of pollutants and dependency on import of fossil fuels. Attendees will include Senior representatives of Serbian Ministry of Agriculture and Mining and energy, Special Advisor to the Ministry of Environment, and Agbiz project companies and clients.
In Egypt: The inauguration of El Akarmeya clinic. Outreach is focused on Egyptian beneficiaries in disadvantaged areas, especially women and children. An integral part of the process involves The Integrated Reproductive Health Services Project (Takamol), which provides technical assistance to the Egyptian Government to include Maternal-Child Health, Family Planning, and Reproductive (MCH/FP/RH ) services.
by Jonathan Hale
Energy and environmental issues have been a key focus of my visit to Russia this week. I had the great opportunity to meet with officials at the Ministry of Energy, which is responsible for improving energy efficiency in Russia, as well as with civic leaders from environmental groups and the Institute for Sustainable Development of the Public Chamber, an entity that serves as an intermediary between Russian citizens and the government. Across the board, my Russian counterparts expressed a strong interest in collaborating with the U.S. to improve energy efficiency and protect the environment.
Two American wildlife experts examine the health of a female Far Eastern leopard in Primorskiy Krai, Russia. With a population of only 30-40 confined to a thin stretch of forest along the Russian-Chinese border, this leopard is one of the world’s rarest and most endangered cats. USAID is supporting a joint US-Russian effort to better understand their ecology and protect their habitat. (Photo by Andrew Harrington, Wildlife Conservation Society)
President Medvedev has identified inefficient use of energy – and its impact on the country’s economy and environment – as an issue of critical importance and has called for reducing the energy intensity of the Russian economy by half by 2020. Today, Russian energy losses due to inefficiency are equal to the annual energy consumption in France! But it’s estimated that Russia could save 45% of consumed energy through innovation and modern technology, which will also help Russia better address climate change. In my meetings here this week, we discussed the challenges of improving energy efficiency in Russia and the substantial impact USAID programs have had in other countries.
At the Public Chamber, I was especially pleased to meet some of the Russian scientists and activists who are a driving force behind environmental protection here. Organizations like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Russia and Greenpeace Russia are led by impressive Russian experts – such as Dr. Ivan Blokov, who also serves as the interim Head of Greenpeace International’s Research Unit. I heard their concerns about pollution and its impact on human health. They also offered their insight on how USAID can continue to partner with Russia to improve the stewardship of its forests – the largest in the world. Together, we can ensure that Russian forests continue to serve as one of the world’s most important carbon sinks and as home to unique ecosystems that include amazing animals like the Amur tiger, the Far Eastern leopard, and the Baikal seal. We also spoke about the Arctic.
Why should this matter to Americans? Russia’s forests and ecosystems make up 22% of the world’s territory so protection in Russia is essential to maintaining a balanced biosphere worldwide. The passion that I have seen this week has energized me even more to find new and exciting ways for USAID to partner and cooperate with Russia on energy efficiency and the environment.
USAID will launch the Feed the Future website – a hub for resources on the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.
Administrator Shah will provide keynote remarks and release the Feed the Future implementation guide at a Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security, hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
A senior delegation from Djibouti will meet with Administrator Shah.
Administrator Shah meets with Nancy Sutley, Chair, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), and other CEQ leaders to discuss continued collaboration on climate change and forestry issues.
Regional forestry officials met to discuss a common vision to reduce deforestation as part of an activity funded by USAID.
At a U.S.-funded workshop on May 6, representatives from government agencies and non-governmental organizations in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam convened to forge a strategy for preserving the forests of the Lower Mekong. These forests are home to more than 25 million people in Vietnam alone, and are threatened by deforestation and degradation.
Participants at the workshop, which was funded in part by the USAID Asia Regional Biodiversity Conservation Program, discussed current efforts to develop national programs to reduce emissions from deforestation. At the Copenhagen negotiations in December 2009, the United States Government committed $1 billion to support forest conservation efforts.
Read the rest of this entry »